The HIV/AIDS epidemic continues to severely impact on our communities. Since the first cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) were reported over 30 years ago, 575,000 Americans have succumbed to AIDS. More than 56,000 people living in the United States are infected with HIV each year. As of today, there are more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV. Currently, the epidemic demands more attention, renewed commitment, increased public awareness, and grassroots leadership within our communities to aggressively and strategically confront the HIV/AIDS epidemic locally and nationwide.
Although the HIV/AIDS epidemic does not discriminate according to national borders, race, gender, racial or cultural groups, the epidemic has disproportionately affected communities of color throughout the United States. For example, from 2006-2009, the Latino community accounted for 20% of all diagnoses of HIV infection among adults and adolescents within the United States, with Black/African American being first.
Within Los Angeles County, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has severely affected the Latino community and drastic action must be taken to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS. From 2006-2011, Latinos accounted for an estimated 48% of HIV diagnoses in Los Angeles County – the most by percentage than any other race and/or ethnicity. This rate is significantly increasing on a yearly basis. In addition, out of all individuals living in Los Angeles County with HIV/AIDS in 2009, Latinos accounted for 40% of those infected – most than any other race or ethnicity. In that same year, Latinos were diagnosed at a higher rate (46%) than any other race and/or ethnicity in Los Angeles County.
Dispelling gender myths regarding the rate of infection, in 2010, out of all males and females living with HIV in Los Angeles County, Latinos (40%) and Latinas (44%) accounted for the highest infection rate than any other race and/or ethnicity. In that same year, Latinos (45%) and Latinas (43%) were diagnosed with HIV at a higher rate than any other race/ethnicity (County of Los Angeles Public Health Department 2011 HIV/AIDS Surveillance Report).
In response to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS throughout the United States and, specifically, in Los Angeles County, community leaders have come together to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in order to help transform the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS and prevent further infection within our communities. To do so effectively, the Los Angeles County government and the United States federal government have adopted and implemented a strategically comprehensive and multi-faceted plan to halt and, ultimately, eliminate HIV/AIDS.